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If You're a Senior, You Should be Exercising

If You're a Senior, You Should be Exercising

There's no debate that exercising regularly delivers oodles of benefits. Many older adults, however, misguidedly think that they can delete exercising from their daily to-do lists. If fact, the opposite is true, so ATRIO Health Plans is working to increase awareness that – if you're a physically-able senior – you most definitely should be exercising; and, if you haven't embraced exercising, the start of this new year is an ideal time to make that commitment.

The Rewards of Exercising

By exercising on most days for just 30 minutes – and that can be divided into three separate sessions of 10 minutes each – older adults will be rewarded with:

  • Faster healing – The healing of wounds can be accelerated by 25 percent. A fit body also is better equipped to fight infections and quicken recovery from illness or injury.
  • Disease prevention – Many chronic conditions and diseases – such as Alzheimer's disease, dementia, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, and colon cancer – can be prevented or delayed.
  • Better balance – Improved balance and reach results in fewer falls – the number one cause of injuries to older adults.
  • A longer, better quality life – Not only does exercise improve seniors' physical fitness and thus life expectancy, but it also delivers psychological benefits, including decreased depression and better overall mood. Additionally, physically and mentally fit seniors also enjoy greater independence and a higher quality of life.

Exercise Regimen Components

Before embarking on any exercise program, first consult with your doctor and review your proposed workout regimen. According to fitness experts, an effective exercise approach for seniors includes: aerobic and endurance exercises; strength and resistance exercises; and stretching exercises.

  • Aerobic and endurance exercises – When doing these types of exercises, you should experience an increase in your heart rate and breathing. Exercises in this category include walking, cycling, and swimming. Aerobic and endurance exercises enhance the body's ability to transport oxygen and nutrients to tissues.
  • Strength and resistance training – Strength training can be done using weights, resistance bands, or Nautilus-type home-gym equipment.

Walls, the floor, and furniture also can be used for resistance exercises. Lunges, sit-ups, and leg raises are good options as well. Two to three strength-resistance training workouts weekly will help prevent loss of bone mass while simultaneously improving balance.

  • Stretching and flexibility exercises – Improving your flexibility will help prevent injuries and reduce muscle soreness. Activities such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are good stretching-and-flexibility choices. Tai chi brings the added benefit of improving balance by building leg strength, flexibility, range of motion, and reflexes – all of which decline with age - and all of which are integral to staying upright.

Find the combination of exercises that work best for you, or follow this sample seven-day exercise schedule.

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